Whinsley Masara, Chronicle Reporter
THE president of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ), Archbishop Johannes Ndanga, said the organisation will not protect anyone found guilty of promoting or engaging in child marriages using church beliefs.
Apostolic sects are accused of being breeding grounds for child molesters. The Johane Marange sect is known for barring members from seeking medical attention for any ailment.
Archbishop Ndanga lambasted prophets from the sect who take advantage of congregants’ belief that they are anointed by God, to force minors to submit to sexual abuse.
“Those who want to have visions or dreams of which woman they should marry should dream of single mothers, widows and not young girls. Why do they only dream of young girls? Why do they never dream of older, widowed women and or single mothers?” asked Archbishop Ndanga.
Speaking in Bulawayo at a health walk that was held on Saturday, he said the church was totally behind proposed amendments to the Marriage Act that will make it illegal to marry a person below the age of 18.
Archbishop Ndanga said there are hundreds of women out there who want to be married and men should target them, instead of young girls.
The Archbishop said the church was out to dispel the myth that apostolic sects preyed on children for sex.
“We are saying a young girl is not yet ripe for marriage and so should not have her life ruined by a selfish man who claims to have had a divine vision that he should marry her.
“According to Genesis 2 verse 18, God says it is not proper for a man to live alone adding ‘I will find a helper who is suitable for thee.’”
The word ‘suitable,’ he said, should be noted because sleeping with a young girl is damaging her and it is “as good as eating a raw mango.”
He said: “We fully support the judgement that was set by the judiciary because it is in full support of the girl child’s rights. It empowers the system to deal with such people and we won’t cover up for anyone caught in this act.
“We won’t allow anyone to use or hide under church beliefs. We will assist in every way to ensure the law brings perverts who hide behind religion, to book. We are actually helping by handing over such people to the police.”
The ACCZ president said since the church adopted zero tolerance towards child marriages and sexual abuse of minors, there has been a decrease in child marriages within apostolic sects.
“To curb child marriages, we have opened Gender and Child Care Unit desks throughout the country which look out for such matters, helping in apprehending anyone found guilty.
“We are yet to go around addressing all churches under our council, warning them that anyone discovered to have married a child, will suffer the consequences,” he said.
He said the church had changed its stance on hospitals and encouraged members to seek medical attention, especially when giving birth.
In Zimbabwe, 610 women out of every 100 000 die while giving birth, with a significant portion of the deaths attributed to apostolic sects that did not believe in hospital delivery.
Early this year, a Johane Marange Apostolic Sect member from Gutu in Masvingo province nearly killed his pregnant wife when he allegedly enlarged her birth canal using a home-made knife when she went into labour.
She was forcibly rushed to the clinic by a team of village health workers as her husband’s sect does not allow members to seek treatment at health institutions.
“Looking at Johane Marange, there has been an improvement on the children’s right to health. They are now getting their children vaccinated in hospitals and clinics. You can confirm that with the Ministry of Health and Child Care. We are looking forward to putting a total end to child marriages considering that our church sects are known for this rot,” he said.
The Revelation Church of God organised the event, which started at Hamara near Basch Street Terminus and ended at Crescent Sports Club in Parkview suburb.
It was held under the theme: “Promoting health, wellness and fitness”, and it recognises the importance of providing good health for the world.